But after surrounding my yard with a web of strings tied to bells, I calmed down a little bit, and thought through the story's implications. Over the past decade, Google has become an omnipresent part of our lives, to the point that a lot of people are getting very nervous about the amount of information the company has about us. And now with Google evidently becoming a leader in the world of automotive automation, it's clear that a massive new form of data may one day become available to them. Which begs the question: Is this Google car a terrifying vision of a future automotive nanny? How will this affect Cracked readers and the many regrettable things they wish to do at speed? I had to find out.
So, I wandered into Google's headquarters, and after misrepresenting Cracked's reputation within the blind community a little bit, I was granted an opportunity to "test drive" the new gCar. Outside I met Jeff, a Googler who'd been working on the project, and who would be accompanying me on the test drive. After going through the various safety precautions -- we would not, it seemed, be doing any Tokyo drifting on this test -- he showed me to the gCar.
The gCar is a modified Toyota Prius, with a variety of additional sensors placed on and around the car to allow it to sense and not slam into its environment. "Can it detect things that it could slam into that deserve it?" I asked, only getting a laugh in response. "Yes," I noted down carefully in my notebook, then approached the car warily from the side. Inside, all of the regular car-ish controls work normally, and can override the gCar's programming at any time. There was also a kill switch mounted in the central console, which was able to shut the car off entirely. "Does it feel any pain?" earned another laugh. Already I was beginning to worry about whether Google was taking this stuff seriously enough.
We began our test drive, driving around the surface streets near Google's headquarters. Initially, the drive was, incredibly, boringly safe. My ass falls asleep just thinking about it. Imagine a perfectly ordinary mom driving, with no neutral drops, or flying off dirt ramps, or getting into scrapes with corrupt small town sheriffs, or anything. We went through a Burger King drive-thru in the most uneventful way possible, with none of the paint scraping, suspension damaging, swear-filled histrionics that normally accompany such trips.
"YES I WILL HAVE EIGHT KETCHUPS YOU SON OF A b***h."